Monthly Archives: September 2003

Pump It Up

Popular dance group Da Pump played yesterday to a thousand fans chosen from 30,000 applicants at a show in the new Roppongi Hills Arena in Tokyo. There have been rumors recently of a breakup between vocalist Issa (photo, 24) and up-and-coming actress Shibasaki Koh (22).

• Itoshi, the elder of manzai brothers Itoshi-Koishi, died last week. He was 78 and so didn’t get to fulfill his ambition of performing till he was 80. Known as Itokoi, the pair had a comedy career that spanned more than 60 years.

Return of Ami?

Matsui Hideki (29) may yet get to taste something even Ichiro hasn’t – a World Series victory. The New York Yankees won the AL East division, in no small part thanks to Matsui’s work at the plate and in left field. Meanwhile at home, his father is to make his recording duo. Matsui Masao (61) is to record a single with enka singer Kasai Kaori (40). Matsui Snr. is said to have a pretty good voice.

• They say it’s not an official comeback, but Suzuki Ami (21) is putting out a new DVD. The two and a half years since the hugely popular singer dropped out of the scene have been filled with legal wranglings and rumors of a comeback blocked by greed. Regardless, this kind of young star will always have loyal fans who’ll shell out money for any old thing, so she’s not likely to starve.

Sanma and Naoko?

Comedian Akashiya Sanma (48) and TV personality Iijima Naoko (35) living together?! The fellow divorcees – or “batsu-ichi” – co-star in a current TV drama series and Iijima was a guest this week on one of Sanma’s talk programs. He made the proposition that as they’re both single and available, they should just shack up together. Could one of Japan’s most renowned playboys be thinking of settling down again? Sanma was formerly married to actress Ohtake Shinobu while Iijima was briefly wed to Tube vocalist Maeda Terunobu.

Fuji TV Tops

TV personality Yoshikawa Hinano (23) has been ordered by her doctor not to take to the stage next week. She was due t star in a stage production but has been diagnosed with a swollen throat. Hinano was briefly married to cross-dressing singer Izam in 1999 (photo).

• Fuji TV recently topped the viewer ratings for 4 weeks in a row for the first time in almost ten years. During the period from August 25 to September 21, popular shows like “Toribia no Izumi” and “Waterboys” drew consistently high ratings, averaging almost 16% in the 7-11pm prime time slot. Last week’s Judo World Championships did even better, drawing over 20% for five nights in a row.

Meanwhile, the Fuji TV-backed movie “Bayside Shakedown 2” has now reached ¥15.5 billion in box office returns. But Fuji president Murakami Koichi (63) apologized again at a press conference for the trouble caused by the popular Wednesday night comedy show “One Night Rock & Roll.” Following a skit that made fun of Daiei Hawks manager and baseball legend Oh Sadaharu, Fuji may not be able to televise the Japan Series. The Hawks look likely to win the Pacific League pennant and play the Hanshin Tigers in the series.

Kemuri Member Dies (Nat’l Holiday: Vernal Equinox)

Morimura Ryosuke (27), trumpeter with the popular ska-punk band Kemuri, died in a pile up on the Tohoku expressway on Sunday. Drummer Shoji Hiraya (37) suffered a broken back as three passenger vehicles and a large truck rammed into the band’s van after it flipped on the highway. Ironically, the 6-member band was driving in typhoon #15 while on their “Typhoon” tour of Japan. All future dates have been cancelled.

• The legendary techno unit Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO) are working together again. Sakamoto Ryuichi (51) teamed up with Japan vocalist David Sylvian and Sketch Show, a unit created by former bandmates Hosono Haruomi (56) and Takahashi Yukihiro (52), on the new single “World Citizen – I Won’t Be Disappointed.” It is the first time for the YMO members to write new music together since 1993. They have no plans to produce anything more than the one single, which goes on sale October 8.

Tribute to Miyuki

A host of western music stars have come together on a compilation album of hits by Nakajima Miyuki (52). Nakajima had a huge hit with “Chijo no Hoshi” and the English version “Earthly Stars” is sung by Julia Fordham. The song set a new record when it reached 148 consecutive weeks in the Japanese charts earlier this year. Other top names of yesteryear on the 11-track CD include Al Jarreau (“A Time”), Janis Ian (“Headlight, Taillight”), Debbie Gibson (“Portrait in Loneliness”) and Maurice White (“Tomorow”).

• Actor Kawarasaki Choichiro died this weekend of sudden heart failure. He was 64. He was best known for his portrayal of fatherly roles in many TV dramas. He was also a cousin and close friend of actress Iwashita Shima (62).

A Thoroughbred Couple

It seems that “thoroughbred” JRA jockey Take Koshiro (24) and Fuji TV presenter Takashima Aya (photo, 24) are deeply in love. Take is the younger brother of Japan’s most famous and successful jockey Take Yutaka, while “Ayapan” has the looks to be considered an “idol” among presenters and even made her recording debut this year using her nickname. The couple met on the racing/variety program “Ashita no G.”

Fans of All Stripes

Kitano Takeshi’s tap-dancing, sword-wielding spectacle “Zatoichi” has won another accolade, this time taking the People’s Choice award at the 28th Toronto Film Festival.

• Among the celebrity stunts that have followed the Hanshin Tigers ‘yuusho’ was one by big-time Giants fan Terri Ito (photo, 53). The outspoken talento dressed in yellow, donned tiger stripe makeup and went walkabout in Tokyo. Other celebs promised to shave their head or even get married if Hanshin win the Japan Series.

It’s Tiger Time

Celebrations erupted in Osaka and around the country on Monday as the Hanshin Tigers won the Central League pennant for the first time in 18 years. Hanshin fans are more colorful than most (and certainly a lot less arrogant than their Giants counterparts) and the long wait means that there’s a lot of pent up frustration being released. Despite police and media attempts to thwart them, many fans insisted on jumping into Osaka’s filthy Dotonbori River.

• Actor Shiina Kippei (39) and actress Yamamoto Mirai (photo, 28) got married at a Tokyo registry office yesterday, putting the seal on an 8-year relationship. They first met when they appeared together in the 1995 TV Asahi drama “Blackout.” They tied the knot before Shiina heads off to a movie shoot. Yamamoto plans to continue her acting career.

“Amon” Broadway

Musician and producer Miyamoto Amon (45) is to take his musical production of “Pacific Overtures” to Broadway next autumn. The story takes a look at an enclosed 19th-century Japanese society on the point of change with the arrival of US Admiral Perry’s so-called ‘Black Ships’ and his attempt to open up trade. The show first appeared on Broadway in 1976 and Miyamoto did a Japanese version in Tokyo three years ago which received great praise from the original composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim. His new English version is set to play at Studio 54, where “Cabaret” is currently enjoying a successful long run.